State v. Cushard

Any error in the trial court’s acceptance of Defendant’s waiver of the right to counsel following the court’s canvass was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore, Defendant was not entitled to a new trial. Defendant was charged with crimes in connection with a robbery. Before trial, Defendant moved to discharge his appointed public defender and to represent himself. After canvassing Defendant about his decision, the trial court granted the motion. About four months later, the trial court canvassed Defendant a second time regarding his decision to represent himself. Defendant responded affirmatively. After the ensuing trial, Defendant was found guilty of certain crimes stemming from the robbery. On appeal, Defendant argued that the first canvass was inadequate, and therefore, his initial waiver of the right to counsel was not knowing and voluntary. The Appellate Court concluded that the first canvass was deficient but that the error was harmless inasmuch as Defendant was canvassed a second time. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that any inadequacy in the first canvass was harmless as a result of the second, adequate canvass. View "State v. Cushard" on Justia Law